Aragone, Hibi Win Southern California Section's US Open National Playoffs; Kudla, Keys Reach Quarterfinals in Wimbledon Warmups; Johnson Faces Devvarman in Nottingham Challenger
Sectional qualifying for the US Open National Playoffs wrapped up today in Southern California, with juniors JC Aragone and Mayo Hibi winning the opportunity to compete at the National Playoffs in New Haven in August.
When I spoke to Hibi back in April about the possibility of playing this again--she lost to Alexandra Mueller in the finals of the national tournament last year--she said she wasn't sure if her schedule would allow it, but after winning the $25,000 event in Las Cruces on Sunday, she was back on the court Monday with the aim of claiming the US Open qualifying wild card that goes to the national winner.
The No. 1 seed, Hibi didn't lose a set in her four matches, and today the 17-year-old from Irvine, Calif. defeated former UCLA Bruin Liz Lumpkin, the No. 2 seed, 6-3, 6-1 in the final.
In the men's draw, there were no seeds, with no one competing with an ATP ranking, but it came down to two blue chip recruits, with JC Aragone, who is joining Virginia in the fall, defeating Mackenzie McDonald, the UCLA recruit, 6-4, 6-4. Neither had lost a set in their four matches leading into the final.
McDonald will be competing in New Haven however, as he and UCLA sophomore Chanelle Van Nguyen won the mixed doubles title, beating NCAA champion Kaitlyn Christian and her partner Dante Cipulli (who won the section's men's singles qualifying tournament last year) 6-3, 7-5(4). The prize for winning the national mixed doubles playoffs is a big one, a main draw wild card into the US Open.
For complete results, see the TennisLink site.
With Wimbledon qualifying beginning next Monday, the grass court season is in full swing, with two ATP tournaments and one WTA tournament on the surface this week.
Americans Madison Keys and Alison Riske reached the quarterfinals of the Birmingham WTA International with wins today. Keys defeated No. 6 seed Mona Barthel of Germany 6-3, 6-2 and qualifier Riske, who has won 10 main draw matches on the WTA tour, all of them in Birmingham, downed Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia 6-1, 6-2. Keys talks of her transition from clay to grass in the WTA article on today's play in Birmingham. Sixteen-year-old Donna Vekic also advanced to the quarterfinals, defeating former USC All-American Maria Sanchez, who had qualified, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Like Riske, Denis Kudla has had his deepest runs in top-level tournaments on grass. Back in 2011 he beat Ivo Karlovic and Grigor Dimitrov on his way to the quarterfinals at the Newport ATP event, and this week at Queens, Kudla has beaten Federico Delbonis of Argentina, 25th-ranked Benoit Paire of France and today, Kenny De Schepper of France, to reach the quarterfinals at the London ATP event. Kudla will play No. 4 seed Jo-Wilfred Tsonga of France on Friday, the fourth match on court.
At the Nottingham Challenger, which has not escaped the rain delays of the two above-mentioned events, Steve Johnson and Somdev Devvarman will meet in Friday's semifinal.
The unseeded Devvarman, who won the NCAA singles title in 2007 and 2008 as a Virginia Cavalier, finished off a rain-interrupted second round win over Jack Sock earlier in the day, then beat Donald Young 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 in the quarterfinals to advance.
Also unseeded, Johnson, who won the NCAA singles title in 2011 and 2012 as a USC Trojan, has yet to lose a set, beating No. 3 seed Vasek Pospisil of Canada in the second and No. 6 seed Illya Marchenko of Ukraine in today's quarterfinals.
Johnson and Devvarman have met once in a professional tournament, back in 2010, before Johnson had won his NCAA singles titles, in the first round of the Los Angeles ATP event. Devvarman won that match 6-4, 6-4.
All the seeds are out of Nottingham, with South African Rik De Voest and Belgian Ruben Bemelmans meeting in the other semifinal.
For complete draws, see the tournament website.